Fight Week at The Marbles has come to a close, but we've got one more little treat for you: a roundup of many of NASCAR's top media figures offering their takes on the best fights in NASCAR history, from legendary brawls of yore to a particularly interesting fight from just last month.
You'll notice that there are several fights that crop up more than once, but as is the case with every fight, no two accounts are exactly the same. Read on and enjoy, but don't use these techniques at the mall this holiday season ...
Jay Hart, some website or other:
For history's sake, you have to go with the '79 Daytona 500, which had all the ingredients of a good feud - big event, lots on the line, brother sticking up for brother, oh, and that whole national-TV-with-everyone-snowed-in thing. There may have been better fights, but that one is probably etched in every NASCAR fan's head.
Ryan McGee, ESPN:
1957, Greensboro Agricultural Fairgrounds. Tiny Lund started brawling with Lee Petty and his two sons, Richard and Maurice, while they were in line for driver introduction. Lund, who was 6-6 and weighed 300 lbs, was whipping them good when Elizabeth Petty, Lee's wife and the boys' mother, came flying in, swinging her purse. Lund soon cowered and stopped the fight, his head covered in red welts. He said later: "Her purse didn't hurt me. But the .38 Special inside the purse sure did!"
You know you want to read more. Go right ahead.
Dustin Long, Landmark Newspapers
-2004, Chicago: After leader Kasey Kahne wrecks on restart after possible contact from Tony Stewart, Kahne's crew chief, Tommy Baldwin Jr. goes down to Stewart's pit, starting a fight among the pit crews:
(Notice in the video when they start showing the fight you can see two NASCAR officials on the ground as crews scuffle around them.) Afterward, here were some of the quotes from that day. Tommy Baldwin Jr.: "I was talking to (Stewart's crew chief Greg Zipadelli), telling him his driver is a moron. He got off the pit box, started pushing me, then the official grabbed me. I don't know what happened then.'' Kahne's car owner Ray Evernham: "(Stewart) definitely needs to be suspended. He needs to have his ass beat. That's the problem with him. Nobody has really grabbed him and given him a good beating. If he doesn't get suspended, maybe I'll do that.'' Said Stewart: "I don't care what Ray said. I didn't do anything wrong.''
-1957: Tiny Lund vs. the Petty family. As the story goes, this happened at a race in Greensboro, N.C. and that apparently Lund, who had driven previously for the Pettys, was telling other competitors some of the Petty team secrets. That angered Lee Petty, who confronted the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Lund. Soon, Lee's sons, Richard and Maurice joined the fight. Then Lee's wife, Elizabeth, as the story goes, stepped in swinging her pocketbook. It led Tiny Lund to say: "If you're going to beat the Pettys, you've got to beat them all.''
-Late 1950s: This story comes from Humpy Wheeler. Tiny Lund vs. Curtis Turner. It happened at Lakewood (Ga). Speedway. Lund was upset with Turner's driving that race. So, while Turner was in in the winner's circle, Lund grabbed him and dragged Turner to a nearby lake and where he repeatedly dunked Turner.
-Any my personal favorite. This one was told to me by Dick Thompson, who was told about it by Tim Flock. It was Curtis Turner vs. Bobby Myers. According to the story, the two drivers weren't too friendly and after one race, Myers came from behind Turner with a two-by-four as Curtis was washing himself off at a spigot. Turner sensed something wrong, turned around and pointed a .38 right at Myers' belly. "What are you going to do with that board?'' Turner asked Myers. Myers said, "I'm just looking for a place to lay it down.'' After that, as the story goes, the drivers got along fine.
To me, the best NASCAR fight has to be the one between Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle after the Busch (now Nationwide) Series race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in March 2002. After getting turned head-on into the outside wall - with no SAFER barrier - with nine laps to go, Harvick was far from 'Happy' with what happened. Walking directly to Biffle's pit box after the incident, Harvick told Dr. Dick Berggren, "I'll be waiting when he comes in here."
Not only was he waiting, as soon as Biffle exited the car Harvick was on top of him with a vise grip on Biffle's driver suit. Shouting at him like a drill instructor as a massive crowd surrounded them, Harvick clearly showed his displeasure. While no punches were thrown in this incident, Harvick's brazen post-race actions have always stuck out in my memory as one of the best NASCAR fights.
- Rusty Wallace throwing a water bottle at Dale Earnhardt in Bristol
- Michael Waltrip punching Lake Speed on pit road in Charlotte.
Nate Ryan, USA Today:
The best fight in NASCAR history has to be the 1979 fisticuffs between Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison because it transcended the sport and set the gold standard by which all stock-car skirmishes are measured. But among those I've witnessed in person, my favorite backstretch brouhaha would be Jeff Gordon v. Jeff Burton at Texas last November for three reasons: 1) the audible gasp from the crowd and media center/press box as two of the seemingly least likely combatants in Sprint Cup began grappling; 2) the long, determined walk Gordon made to initiate the conflict, which built the anticipation with each angry step; 3) the stunning aftermath in which both drivers were escorted into the same ambulance -- and hence left a now captivated audience desperately starved to witness the rest of the story.
Brant James, Sports Illustrated:
Sept. 2003 - Ricky Rudd sends Kevin Harvick into the wall late at Richmond, ruining a likely top-5 finish and Harvick's pit crew stomps on the hood of the No. 21 on pit road. Rudd says he couldn't hear Harvick's complaints because of his "yap-yap" mouth.
Doug Turnbull, WSB Radio.com:
1. Donnie Allison, Bobby Allison vs. Cale Yarborough (Daytona, February 1979) - Not only was this the most physical fight caught on TV, its impact on launching NASCAR is unrivaled by any other moment in the sport's history.
2. Kevin Harvick vs. Greg Biffle (Busch race at Bristol, March 2002) - Harvick jumped off of a racecar and grabbed The Biff by the neck in midst a throng of angry crewmen. Wonder why fans like Bristol so much?
3. Kevin Harvick vs. Ricky Rudd (Richmond, September 2003) - Another short track wreck that involves Harvick jumping across a racecar and confronting a driver after an on-track sheet metal shoving match. After the fact, Rudd complained that Harvick jumped up and down on his racecar, threw his HANS device at him, and said Harvick had a "yip yip mouth."
4. Jeff Gordon vs. Jeff Burton (Texas, November 2010) - Significant because the NASCAR fan base needed some big-time excitement in midst of the Chase. Burton blocks Gordon on the track. Gordon shows his displeasure to Burton during the caution, prompting Burton to rub Gordon's car and accidentally hook both into the wall. Gordon attacks Burton when they both exit the cars and then are forced to ride in the same ambulance together after it breaks up.
Thanks to all the fine folks above. Be sure to visit all their sites every day. After The Marbles, of course.
Next up: Wreck Week!